Award shows, as fun as they are, are also strange affairs — and the VMAs are no exception. Bizarre things happen. A standard post-show red carpet interview could be hijacked and twisted into something sillier, for example, or someone could run off and scale the Universal Studios globe because hey, sure, why not? Things get weird.
And we love it: all the weirdness, all the awkward moments when the parties involved don't know what they could possibly say, all the moments that pass by in their uncomfortable glory and make us cringe like we're at the wrong family reunion (or the right one, depending on your family).
These are seven we'll never forget — and we know you won't, either.
Babyfaced Taylor Swift interviews the babyfaced Jonas Brothers. (2008)Kevin Mazur/Getty
Check the scene: It's '08, and Tay and Joe are fully 'shipped. She's working the red carpet pre-show extravaganza and asks the JoBros about their Video Of The Year nom — while totally making eyes at Joe (and while he shoots them right back). It's subtle, but it's there, and it's only awkward in the way middle-school dances are awkward. Medium cringing.
Fiona Apple: "This world is bullshitt." (1997)Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty
Oh, Fiona. We were with you when you told everyone not to model their behaviors or their styles on what their favorite celebs do. We were with you when you told everyone to just "be yourself." And then you said it was "stupid" that you were in this world, and we just couldn't follow anymore. It's not stupid. It's great.
Tim C. rages against the ma-scenery. (2000)Dave Hogan/Getty
There will never be a time quite like the early 2000s. A veritable Wild West of musical tastes and styles, rock music was in an odd, angsty, teenager-with-the-door-slammed-shut phase — and acts like Limp Bizkit and the forebears Rage Against The Machine were at the forefront. But when Limp took home the Moonman for Best Rock Video, Rage's Tim Commerford protested (of course) by scaling the set and rocking it to try and bring it down. Rage went home empty-handed, sadly, but the point was made: Limp Bizkit's days were numbered.
Eminem gets handsy with a puppet dog. (2002)Kevin Kane/Getty
We all know Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog — a staple of mid-2000s celebrity culture whose job it was to literally make things as awkward and uncomfortable as possible for everyone. So it's no wonder that when he approached Em asking for his thoughts on a Moby-centric diss on "Without Me," Em wasn't having any of it. He gently shoved the puppet out of his face, and Triumph later ended up in a neck brace (while Em made off with Video Of The Year).
Every Riff Raff and Katy Perry interaction. (2014)MTV
In 2014, Katy brought Riff Raff as her date, which was entertaining enough. But we were pretty into the general awkwardness of their embraces — or lack thereof. When Katy won Best Female Video for "Dark Horse," she pretty much bypassed any acknowledgement of her date in order to rush the stage and snatch her Moonman. Empathy cringe.
"Miley, what's good?" (2015)Getty Images
Nicki Minaj wasn't about to let 2015 host Miley Cyrus badmouth her without a fight. After Miley called Nicki "not too kind" in an interview published three days before the VMAs, Nicki went ahead and won a Moonman for her "Anaconda" video. She closed her acceptance speech with three words that will never stop ringing in our ears: "Miley, what's good?"
Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift. (2009)Christopher Polk/Getty
Was there really any doubt? Everyone knows about this now, including your grandmother. Right as Taylor grabbed the mic to accept her Best Female Video award for "You Belong With Me," Yeezy snatched it from her to declare that "Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time." Though they pair seemed to patch things up a few years out (creating some career-best music in the process, the feud reignited in 2016 after Kanye's "Famous" song and video. Now all Taylor wants is to be "excluded from this narrative." Good luck!